What I did on my holidays - part 1
After nine months in Orkney (including only two trips away from Westray to Kirkwall), I finally ventured across the Pentland Firth to Scotland, hoping to combine family duties with a little hill-walking.
A bundle of maps littered the passenger seat of the car and any number of plans littered my head as I rolled off the Hamnavoe at Scrabster. Given that my only hill-walking since the previous September had been regular trips up Fitty Hill (169m) and a walk from Kirkwall to the top of Wideford Hill (225m), I guessed "hill-fitness" might be an issue so didn't set my sights too high - no rushing down for Ben Wyvis today.
Time was an issue as I was expected in Edinburgh by teatime so I reckoned Ben Griam Mor might suit (and also give an excuse to avoid Berridale Braes which is safer since improvements, but still a strain on a small car.
Low cloud over the Griams left me pushing on through Kinbrace into the Strath of Kildonan before a right turn up to the station and then into Glen Loth. Here the road has deteriorated seriously in the last 18 months and is negotiable in an ordinary car only with great care.
Parking at the high point in the road, I set out for Beinn Mhealaich - a hill with few trip reports anywhere before this spring.
I'd expected a boggy slog and had put gaiters on, but in the end there was no need. A short distance up the road there's a clear ATV track that goes off to the first summit of A'Chrasg. Following advice on the Mountains of Scotland website I went up and over the top there, pausing for the views which opened up towards Morven, Creag Scalabsdale and Scaraben.
The ATV track continues with varying degrees of clarity most of the way up the hill, although I suspect any time other than high summer after a dry spell it would be pretty squelchy. I puffed and wheezed up the modest climb and before too long was at the large flat summit area enjoying hazy views over the North Sea to the east, Morven and neighbours to the north, Ben Armine, the Griams and glimpses of Ben Loyal to the west and Beinn Dhorian and Ben Uarie over the road.
After hanging around for half-an-hour I went a wee bit wrong leaving the summit and it took a while bouncing across some tussocky grass before I rejoined the ATV track down and back the way I came.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.